Limiting Funding To ETCs Would Exclude Innovative Cable Providers
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, October 12, 2018 – The American Cable Association supports the Federal Communications Commission’s connected care pilot program, and it urges the agency to select projects that can utilize existing high-speed broadband networks that cable operators and others have deployed throughout America.
ACA’s endorsement and policy proposals came in response to an FCC Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the idea of creating a Universal Service Fund (USF) pilot program to support delivery of connected care to low-income Americans.
“The NOI has united a diverse range of constituencies behind an exciting opportunity to explore new and innovative ways that broadband technologies can support health care delivery and improve care for low-income populations in both rural and urban America,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “ACA commends the agency and thanks Commissioner Brendan Carr for his leadership on this timely initiative.”
Because demand for funding is likely to exceed the limits of the budget, ACA said in comments filed Wednesday that the FCC can stretch the budget as far as possible by taking appropriate steps to ensure that awarded funds are used cost-effectively and for purposes distinctly related to the goals of the program.
“The FCC should generally steer clear of pilot projects that include a broadband deployment component. Instead, the agency should select projects that leverage existing broadband infrastructure as much as possible,” Polka said.
ACA stressed that where a pilot project is relying on existing broadband providers, the FCC should disburse funds in the form of vouchers that patients could use to purchase broadband connectivity from their choice of provider. This approach makes good sense for a program focused on enabling connectivity rather than subsidizing deployments.
A diverse range of commenters agreed with ACA that all capable broadband providers should be eligible to participate in the pilot program, regardless of whether the provider is an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC). Excluding cable operators and other non-ETCs from the program would sharply reduce the availability of broadband infrastructure to support pilot projects and could forgo opportunities to experiment with the delivery of connected care using various broadband technologies.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 700 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit: https://acaconnects.org/